Two Canadian naval vessels sail through Taiwan Strait: Taipei

21 June, 2019 12:00 AM printer

TAIPEI: Two Canadian naval vessels sailed through the Taiwan Strait, Taipei’s defence ministry said, in the latest naval passage likely to irk Beijing, reports AFP.

The ships sailed through the narrow waterway separating the Chinese mainland and Taiwan in a “freedom of navigation” operation, the ministry said in a statement issued late Wednesday, without providing any details.

It added that Taiwan’s military had closely monitored the “movements of the relevant aircraft and vessels in the region” as the ships passed through the strait.

Relations between China and Canada have deteriorated since December when police in Vancouver detained Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on a US arrest warrant.

Days later China arrested two Canadians—former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor—in what is widely seen as a tit-for-tat move.

China has also blocked Canadian agricultural shipments worth billions of dollars.

It was the latest such naval voyage in the Taiwan Strait in recent months.

Beijing lodged a protest with Washington in May after a US destroyer and a supply ship sailed through the strait amid rising tensions between the two powers.

US warships periodically conduct “freedom of navigation” exercises in the waterway, triggering angry responses from Beijing every time.

Beijing views any ships passing through the strait as essentially a breach of its sovereignty—while the US and many other nations view the route as international waters open to all.

China sees Taiwan as part of its territory, despite the two sides being ruled separately since the end of a civil war on the mainland in 1949.

In April, China said its navy warned off a French warship that had entered the Taiwan Strait earlier that month and lodged an official complaint with Paris.